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Marijuana Withdrawal & Detox

Studies show marijuana addiction and dependence are possible. People who use marijuana heavily may experience withdrawal symptoms when they detox from the drug.

Marijuana detox can be a challenging yet rewarding first step toward recovery. When a person who has been using marijuana heavily stops taking the drug, they must detox from marijuana, just like any other drug. Detox is the process of cleansing your body of the substance before you take steps towards long-term abstinence.

Withdrawal is a natural part of detox, which is the body’s process of removing marijuana and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). Seeking medical help, such as at an inpatient detox facility, can help you avoid weed withdrawal symptoms. The medical staff at the facility can treat withdrawal symptoms as they occur, leading to the most comfortable detox experience possible.

Article at a Glance:

  • Headaches, irritability, sweating, nausea and difficulty sleeping are symptoms of marijuana withdrawal.
  • Generally, weed withdrawal symptoms peak during the first week after quitting and begin to improve within two weeks.
  • Weed withdrawal is often most comfortable in a medically supervised facility, where doctors and nurses can monitor symptoms and help with discomfort.
  • The Recovery Village’s detox process includes detoxification, marijuana addiction treatment and aftercare planning.
  • No specific medications curb marijuana cravings, so it is important to avoid environments and people who hinder your recovery.
Table of Contents

What Is Marijuana Withdrawal?

Marijuana withdrawal occurs when you are physically dependent on marijuana. When you become physically dependent on a substance, your body begins to expect its presence. The body becomes accustomed to the presence of marijuana and produces fewer of its own cannabinoid-like chemicals.

If you suddenly stop taking marijuana, your body’s chemistry is, therefore, off-balance. Your body is no longer getting the marijuana you take regularly, and it’s not producing its usual amount of cannabinoids. The side effects that you experience as your body tries to recalibrate itself are known as withdrawal. Marijuana withdrawal is also known as weed withdrawal or marijuana withdrawal syndrome.

Common Symptoms of Marijuana Withdrawal

Marijuana withdrawal is common, impacting about 90% of people who are dependent on the drug. When a person experiences weed withdrawal symptoms, the symptoms often follow a pattern. Fortunately, most marijuana withdrawal symptoms are mild to moderate in severity, especially if the person is young. 

Common weed withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Cravings for marijuana                                           
  • Irritability                                       
  • Nervousness/anxiety                                  
  • Aggression                                     
  • Restlessness                                   
  • Anger                                 
  • Insomnia                                        
  • Strange dreams                                          
  • Depressed mood                                        
  • Low appetite                                  
  • Sweating                                        
  • Shakiness                                       
  • Headaches                                      
  • Stomach pains                                
  • Nausea

illustration of the symptoms of marijuana withdrawal

Severe Symptoms of Marijuana Withdrawal

Marijuana withdrawal symptoms can vary in severity. Although the symptoms themselves usually stay the same, a person can experience milder or more severe versions of the symptoms. Certain people are more likely to have a worse withdrawal experience than others. Some risk factors for severe weed withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Physical dependence on marijuana
  • Older age
  • Long-term marijuana use
  • Heavy marijuana use

Duration of Symptoms

Marijuana withdrawal symptoms may persist for days after quitting the drug. Generally, weed withdrawal symptoms peak during the first week after quitting and begin to improve within two weeks.

This withdrawal timeline matches the body’s natural healing process for the cannabinoid receptors impacted by marijuana. These receptors in a person’s brain start to recover within two days of stopping marijuana and are fully recovered within four weeks.

illustration of the withdrawal timeline for marijuana use

Length of Time of Detox

Whether you complete detox at a rehabilitation center or at home, the timeline for detox and withdrawal can vary. For some, the timeline may be a relatively small window, while others may take longer to overcome withdrawal symptoms.

If you are participating in a medically supervised detox program, you can expect to stay in medical detox as long as medically needed under the guidance of trained professionals. Keep in mind that detox timelines are unique to every person, so what may only take a few days for one person could take longer for someone else.

Marijuana Withdrawal Prevention & Management

If you struggle with marijuana, it’s understandable to want to manage withdrawal symptoms as you stop the drug. Preparing yourself for the withdrawal process is an important step towards a successful recovery.

Although tapering off a drug, or slowly decreasing the amount you take, is a way to avoid withdrawal symptoms, it can be difficult with street drugs. If you are buying marijuana off the street, it can be difficult to know exactly how much tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) you are getting.

Going through withdrawal can feel like an illness, so it’s important to go about it with the right help. Withdrawal is often most comfortable in a medically supervised facility, where doctors and nurses can monitor symptoms and help with discomfort. They may administer over-the-counter medications to help with common side effects, such as headaches and flu-like symptoms, or prescription medications to help with more serious symptoms like tremors and insomnia.

Choosing How to Detox

Marijuana detox can help you move on from regular drug use. At an inpatient rehab facility, detoxification is usually the first step in the recovery process. If you do choose to detox on your own, be aware of the risks and limits of what you can do at home. Ensure that you have a loved one who can monitor you for any withdrawal symptoms, and consult with a doctor before tackling any major medical milestones.

At-Home Detox

Some people may choose to detox at home when they quit marijuana. When completing home detox from weed, make sure that you eat healthily, stay hydrated and seek support from friends or loved ones. Having a person available at home to monitor your withdrawal symptoms can be helpful as well. During an at-home detox, it’s harder to quickly treat withdrawal symptoms as they occur, which can mean significant discomfort and distress. Uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms are often why people do not finish their detox and relapse back to marijuana use. 

Detoxing at a Medical Facility

Completing a detox at a medical facility is the best way to avoid withdrawal effects from marijuana, as you will be under round-the-clock medical supervision. This allows nurses and doctors to intervene as soon as your withdrawal symptoms begin, giving you a more comfortable withdrawal.

For example, if you experience the common withdrawal symptom of insomnia, your rehab facility can give you a small dose of mirtazapine. This medication has been shown to help treat trouble sleeping in marijuana withdrawal. Similarly, other weed withdrawal side effects can be quickly treated before they become overly bothersome.

Quitting Cold Turkey

Some people attempt to quit cold turkey, or suddenly stopping their marijuana intake. This can be difficult, especially if you have a heavy marijuana intake or have taken the drug for a long time. Because of the changes in your brain when you become physically dependent on marijuana, stopping suddenly can cause more severe side effects. If you want to quit cold turkey, it is best to do so under medical supervision like at a rehab facility. 

illustration of the marijuana detox process

Our Detox Process

The Recovery Village offers a comprehensive detox process that allows for a seamless transition into an inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation program. This process includes:

Detox is usually only one small part of recovery. It’s what comes next that can really make a difference in long-term healing. If you undergo detox at a rehab center like The Recovery Village, detox will be the first crucial step in recovery from marijuana. After your body is cleansed of marijuana, the hard, long-term work of rehab begins. In rehab, you explore why you became so reliant on marijuana in the first place and how to develop coping mechanisms to avoid relapses.

Detox Medications & Remedies

While in detox, your doctors and nurses can use multiple medications to help ease your withdrawal symptoms. The specific medications prescribed will depend on a variety of factors, including the detox facility, your medical history and your withdrawal symptoms.

Some medications that have been successfully used to help relieve marijuana withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Nefazodone, for treatment of anxiety in marijuana withdrawal
  • Fluoxetine, to help reduce marijuana use
  • Entacapone, to reduce marijuana cravings
  • Buspirone, to reduce irritability and marijuana cravings

Find the Help You or Your Loved One Needs

It can be overwhelming to feel like you are caught in a struggle with marijuana. Concern about withdrawal symptoms may even lead you to delay quitting marijuana. You don’t have to do it alone. Withdrawal does not need to be a roadblock to your recovery from marijuana. Our caring experts at The Recovery Village can help you detox gently and put you on the road to a new life without marijuana. Contact us today to learn more.

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

View our editorial policy or view our research.

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